tv Countdown With Keith Olbermann Current March 5, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PST
this? (vo)and current tv creates the commentary that drives the truth. this is the new current tv. (vo)when a massive hurricane makes landfall thousands of people can lose their lives. sweeping remorselessly in from the sea there is no power on earth which can slow it down. winds in excess of 150 miles-an-hour and torrents of rain batter the land. sea levels rise and waves up to 30 feet high surge inland, flooding the area for miles around. buildings are swept away
(vo)during the last week in august 2008 officials in new orleans were getting seriously worried. a massive hurricane was heading in from the gulf of mexico straight for the state of louisiana in america's deep south. the hurricane,named gustav was due to hit over the next three to five days. if it maintained its present course gustav would eventually end up over the southern states, louisiana and mississippi in particular. almost exactly three years
earlier new orleans had been hit by one of the worst storms on record,hurricane katrina and was still struggling to recover. with the memory of the disaster still fresh in his mind, new orleans mayor, ray nagin, knew that if lives were to be saved he had to act swiftly. >>you need to be scared, you need to be concerned, and you need to get your butts moving out of new orleans right now. this is the storm of the century. (vo)a mass evacuation of new orleans and the gulf coast area was put into effect immediately. soon thousands of people under the watchful eye of the louisiana national guard were steadily heading inland. by august 31st nearly two
million people were on the move in what would turn out to be one of the biggest mass evacuations in us history. they were just in time because gustav slammed ashore the very next day. however, even though howling winds and torrential rain lashed the gulf coast, the storm was not quite as bad as everyone feared. the levees, or barriers, which protect new orleans managed to hold, sparing the city from a major flood. gustav then moved inland weakening the further it went. on its journey across the caribbean and into the us the hurricane resulted in around 150
deaths. it also caused at least $8.5 billion worth of damage, making it one of the costliest disasters on record. hurricane gustav was the seventh major storm to sweep in from the north atlantic since the start of the summer and early autumn hurricane season. it would be followed by yet another, hurricane hanna, in less than a week. hanna would kill more than 500 people throughout the west indies before making landfall on the us gulf coast, causing a large amount of damage but only a handful of fatalities. so what exactly is a hurricane and how do they develop such awesome power? at its most basic a hurricane is a storm characterized by high winds which rotate around an
area of extremely low pressure. they begin life as small thunderstorms over the warm waters of the north atlantic ocean. a great many of them are centered on an area known as hurricane alley. this takes in the cape verde islands off the northwest coast of africa; the outer islands of the caribbean; mexico and texas in the us. the alley also encompasses the western part of the gulf of mexico. hurricanes which begin here usually head straight for the us gulf coast and the florida panhandle in particular. (continuation of map) before a hurricane forms the temperature of the sea has to be at least 80 degrees fahrenheit. as the storm develops overhead it draws warm moist air up into
the atmosphere in a great column. the rising air cools rapidly, to be followed by yet more air from the surface of the sea far below. when it reaches the weather system above, the air, motivated by the rotation of the earth, starts moving around a centre of very low pressure. this is known as the eye and no matter how violent the storm which surrounds it, the eye is calm and still. the further it travels the more warm moist air it absorbs and the more powerful it becomes. this, in turn, makes the storm rotate faster. once it hits 74 miles-an-hour the storm is classified as a hurricane. at this stage the storm can be up to ten miles high and 500
miles across. hurricanes maintain and draw their strength only when absorbing moist air over warm water. once they hit land, or a stretch of cold water, they rapidly lose power. however, even when downgraded to no more than a tropical storm they can still cause major damage and it may be many days sometimes even weeks before they finally dissipate. you're about to watch an ad message created by a current tv viewer for eharmony.com >>at eharmony
it's super tuesday with live coverage and analysis from keith olberman. >>that's what we're here for. a special edition. countdown, super tuesday, with keith olberman. only on current tv. the power and destructive potential of a hurricane is measured on what's known as the saffir-simpson scale. the scale was introduced in 1973 by a construction engineer& called herbert saffir and robert
simpson, then director of the us national hurricane center in miami, florida. it grades hurricanes in ascending order from one to five. a hurricane at the bottom of the scale will cause minor damage such as bringing down power lines or small light structures. however, a category five hurricane can generate winds exceeding 150 miles-an-hour and tidal storm surges up to 20 feet high. such a hurricane has the power to devastate cities, flood vast areas of land and kill thousands of people. thankfully a category five hurricane is a rare event. but when one does strike the result is truly terrifying.
on august 23rd 1992 nearly one million people started fleeing inland from the east coast of south florida. a massive hurricane was just a few miles offshore, heading in from the north atlantic ocean via the bahamas. with meteorologists predicting it would make landfall as a category five hurricane, right at the top of the scale the race was on to get people out of harm's way as quickly as possible. the next day the storm, named hurricane andrew, slammed in over the coast about 30 miles south of miami. it would turn out to be one of the most destructive storms in us history. although only around 20 people were killed in the fury of the storm, more than 80,000 houses
were either destroyed or badly damaged, leaving a great many people homeless. after developing far out over the sea a few days earlier hurricane andrew brushed past the low lying bahamas before heading straight for florida. from florida it moved east over the gulf of mexico before coming ashore again about 90 miles southwest of new orleans on the louisiana coast. hurricane andrew finally blew itself out over mississippi the next day. by then it had caused over $20 billion worth of damage making it, at the time, the usa's costliest natural disaster. it would not be superseded for another 13 years.
the world's leading hurricane research and tracking organization is the us national hurricane centre, based just outside miami at the florida international university. using geostationary satellites as well as land and sea based recording devices, the nhc is able to monitor the progress of a hurricane, once it formed, and predict where and when it's likely to make landfall. special reconnaissance planes are also dispatched to get in close, measuring wind speeds and looking out for any potentially dangerous activity. this is extremely hazardous. as a plane flies through the outer wall of a hurricane it is subjected to extreme forces and buffeted on all sides. however, calm descends when the plane reaches the eye.
the quiet heart of the great storm. once a hurricane is within 36 hours of making landfall especially over an urban area the nhc begins issuing a series of warnings. in theory this should give people enough time to head away from the coast and the main danger zones. by now the hurricane will also have been identified by giving it a name. this is to heighten the awareness of both the emergency services and the general public. september 17th 1989, the caribbean. a few minutes after midnight one of the most powerful hurricanes the caribbean region has ever
known, swept in from the atlantic ocean and hit the island of guadeloupe in the west indies. violent 140 mile-an-hour winds torrential rain and a tidal surge 17 feet high wreaked havoc within just a few minutes. the damage was overwhelming. after leaving 12,000 people homeless, the storm,now known as hurricane hugo, then careered into the caribbean sea and headed northwest towards montserrat, making landfall early on the morning of september 17th.
situation is the most dangerous of all. move immediately. (vo)forewarned that it was on its way the island's residents had done all they could to protect their homes and other but they may as well not have bothered. by the time the hurricane had finished with montserrat 90 per cent of the houses had been destroyed. this left 11,000 people homeless out of a total population of 12,000. the hurricane had started developing a week earlier in the mid-atlantic ocean, around 700 miles east of the leeward islands. it then moved west, steadily gaining in strength until september 11th when it was recognized as a full blown
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continued on its northwest trajectory and made for the virgin islands, striking home on september 18th. continuing along its remorseless path the hurricane then made for the northeast coast of puerto rico 50 miles to the west, arriving in the early hours of september 19th. after battering puerto rico the hurricane continued on its northwesterly route out into the deep waters of the north atlantic ocean. experts at the us national hurricane centre tracking the storm from miami, reckoned it would hit the coast of south carolina within the next few hours. following urgent warnings more than 300,000 people fled from the low lying regions of south carolina, the southern part of north carolina and georgia.
finally, late on the evening of september 21st, hurricane hugo now 100 miles across roared ashore over the city of charleston, south carolina. as howling 155 mile-an-hour winds whipped the sea into a churning frenzy, a wall of water nearly 20 feet high surged inland, flooding much of the city's downtown area. this is still thought to be the highest tidal surge ever recorded along north america's atlantic coast. in charleston itself more than 80 per cent of the city's historic buildings were badly damaged. in the rural areas outside the city a great swathe of the frances marion national forest was destroyed and much of the region's cotton crop was also
lost. after venting its fury over charleston and the surrounding area, hurricane hugo then moved up through north carolina, virginia, ohio and pennsylvania, losing strength the further it went. it finally dissipated far out in the north atlantic on september 22nd. hurricane hugo would turn out to be one of the worst storms in history. it caused $7 billions worth of damage in the us alone and $3 billion in the caribbean, making it one of the costliest natural disasters on record. yet despite the widespread havoc the death toll was comparatively light, just 35 people are believed to have perished in the us and 74 in the caribbean.
in addition thousands of people were left homeless and the rebuilding programme would take years to complete. october 25th 1998, central america. around mid-morning a massive hurricane was heading relentlessly over the southwest caribbean sea towards honduras. meteorologists had already classed it as a category five storm, the highest grade on the saffir-simpson scale. named hurricane mitch it would prove to be one of the deadliest storms in history, costing thousands of lives. by october 26th the winds had increased to 180 miles-an-hour
and meteorologists realized it was building into a storm of epic proportions as it continued to drift westward over the caribbean sea. now, however, the great winds began to abate and it would not be until three days later, on october 29th, when mitch finally hit honduras, coming ashore around 80 miles east of la ceiba, honduras's third largest city. at this point the storm had been downgraded. but it was still powerful enough to devastate the coastal and the offshore bay islands, guanaja in particular. houses were smashed, bridges destroyed and boats wrecked. torrential rain and a storm surge flooded much of the area
rivers burst their banks, adding to the chaos. however, because there had been plenty of warnings that hurricane mitch was on its way around 120,000 people had been evacuated by the time the storm made landfall. this certainly saved lives in and around the coast. but hurricane mitch had not done yet. now the storm curved west and started a slow drift into the mountainous interior. here it was rain rather than wind which was the problem. in fact the rain was so heavy and so unrelenting that it resulted in a series of devastating landslides and mudslides. whole villages were swept away in the raging torrents and
people died in great numbers. as hurricane mitch moved on from honduras it left a terrible trail of death and destruction in its wake. around 6500 people were dead; 8000 missing; thousands injured and up to one and half million people left homeless. seventy per cent of the country's crops were destroyed including vital banana plantations, and thousands of farm animals perished. damage caused to the transport system, roads, bridges and railways, was put as high as 80 per cent. according to carlos robert flores, the honduran president
hurricane mitch had wiped out 50 years of progress in just 24 hours. the hurricane also created mayhem in nicaragua, which bordered honduras to the south. even though it didn't actually make landfall in nicaragua, the spread of the storm's effect the heavy rain in particular resulted in floods and numerous landslides. throughout the country nearly 4000 people would die as their towns and villages were engulfed. two thousand people went missing and more than half a million lost their homes. is on the new news network. >>welcome to the war room. >>jennifer granholm joins current tv.
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(vo)hurricane mitch also pounded panama; costa rica, el salvador, guatemala and belize - where 75,000 people were evacuated from belize city and the coast. by now aid was being rushed into the stricken areas and a massive search and rescue operation got going. the us airlifted in medical and other vital supplies as well as deploying a fleet of military helicopters to back up the on november 2nd the storm - which by now had been reduced to no more than a weak depression - drifted northward over mexico and into the warm waters of bay of campeche. the following day - as it absorbed vast amounts of warm moist air from the surface of the sea - mitch quickly
regained its status as a full blown tropical storm. but after lashing the west coast of the yucatan peninsula in mexico it started losing power again. this didn't last long because as mitch moved back over the bay of campeche and into the gulf of mexico it became - for the third time - a powerful tropical storm. it now started heading northeastwards fast. straight for the southwest coast of florida, coming in over the florida keys on the morning of november 5th. no-one was killed or injured during the storm but the high winds and driving rain toppled trees and power lines and damaged a great deal of property.
mitch then headed out to sea again, moving east over the bahamas and into the north atlantic ocean, finally dissipating 4500 miles away, north of the uk on november 9th. as hurricane mitch scythed its way through the caribbean and central america it's believed to have killed around 19,000 people. but as so many people just disappeared the true number will never be known. in addition more than two-and-a-half million people lost their homes and - in many cases - their livelihoods. mitch was said to be one of the deadliest north atlantic tropical storms on record.
but seven years later it would be eclipsed by another hurricane which, although not resulting in as many fatalities, would prove to be one of the worst disasters in us history. august 29th 2005, the gulf coast, usa. shortly after dawn a massive category five hurricane roared in from the gulf of mexico and slammed into the southernmost tip of louisiana. within just a few minutes howling winds, relentless waves and lashing rain flattened more than 1000 buildings along the waterfront.
the hurricane now spread out in a 200 mile long trail of destruction along the coast. over the next five hours it would engulf one community after another. by the time the hurricane weakened and dissipated it had created havoc on an unprecedented scale. in fact hurricane katrina - as it was known - would go on record as the most destructive and costliest natural disaster in us history. as the hurricane rampaged up and down the coast, worst hit was the historic city of new orleans, which lay 63 miles north of the point where the storm first made landfall.
eighty per cent of the city was flooded with water up to 25 feet deep, inundating more than 200,000 homes, offices and other buildings. meanwhile biloxi, further along the coast in mississippi, was overwhelmed by a wall of water 30 feet high. this was the greatest storm surge in us recorded history and it would cause an enormous amount of damage. katrina started life over the warm waters of the north atlantic ocean on the afternoon of august 23rd about 175 miles southeast of nassau in the bahamas. during the evening it started drifting slowly northeast
towards the east coast of florida. by mid-morning the following day the winds forming around the weather system had increased to 40 miles-an-hour. katrina continued to head for florida, making landfall between hallandale beach and north miami early on the evening of august 25th. seven people died as 80 mile-an-hour winds and heavy rain swept the coast, flooding the streets and knocking out the electricity supply to more than one million people. however, this was just the beginning. katrina then moved inland over the everglades, emerging over the gulf of mexico on august 26th. as they tracked its progress
observers at the us national hurricane center in miami were pretty sure the storm would end up striking the heavily populated louisiana and mississippi coastal region. on the morning of august 27th the nhc issued an urgent warning covering southeastern louisiana and the new orleans area. this was extended during the afternoon to include the mississippi and alabama coastline. by now everyone was getting extremely worried about what would happen to new orleans. the city is surrounded by water and 80 per cent of the urban area lies between six to ten feet below sea level. the mighty mississippi river lies on one side; on the other is lake pontchartrain.
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you're hungry. better? [ male announcer ] you're not you when you're hungry™. better. [ male announcer ] snickers satisfies. (vo)new orleans was protected against flooding by huge barriers between 17 and 23 feet high. if the barriers - known as levees - were to fail, the consequences were almost too awful to contemplate. as warnings of katrina's remorseless progress spread, workers on offshore oil rigs were evacuated and thousands of people living on or near the coast started streaming to safety further inland. at the same time president george w. bush signed disaster declarations for the threatened regions and urged people to get out of harm's way.
katrina was now upgraded to a category five hurricane, the highest measure on the saffir-simpson scale. observers thought it might fall to category four by the time it made landfall. joe suhayda, a coastal engineer explained. >>to convince people that one is a category 3 or 4 or a 5 storm that they should evacuate for their own personal safety because their safety could not be guaranteed by any governmental agency. (vo)at 9.30 am on august 28th ray nagin, the mayor of new orleans, ordered a mass evacuation of the city. >>we are facing a storm that most of us has feared. every person is hereby ordered to evacuate the city of new orleans. (vo)the last minute notice to evacuate caught many by surprise and meant they could leave only with what they could carry.
but more than 100,000 people - mainly the old, the sick and the poor - had no means of escape. so they were told to assemble at the louisiana superdome in the city's central business district where they would be cared for and protected from the coming storm. the authorities had provided enough food and water to last 15,000 people three days. but around twice this number turned up and the superdome soon overflowed with a huddled mass of frightened people. meanwhile, those who couldn't get in wandered helplessly through the streets; they had nowhere to go. early on the morning of monday
august 29th katrina finally hit new orleans, roaring in with terrifying force. this truly was a hurricane from hell. >>the rain was horizontal. it was just blowing just straight through the house, you know, chunks, bits of trees, stuff and you could just hear this kind of, the sound was, it sounded like a war of the worlds. it's kind of urgghh. the intensity of it is, it's like as if someone is just lifting you up round by your elbows and giving you a bear hug and pressing you at the temples at the same time periodically for 5 or 10 seconds for hour after hour. (vo)the levees were breached on all sides as a great tide of water engulfed almost the entire city. the catastrophic failure of the levees came as no surprise to joe suhayda.
>>this flood wall did break and for some number of days water continued to fill first the northern part of the city and eventually all the way up to the french quarter. the levees are designed to a certain level of threat. the fact that they were designed to a category 3 storm means that if the force, if the hurricane intensity was greater than 3 then the actual forces that would be applied to the structure would be greater than they were designed to withstand and like anything, if you put a 500lb weight on a beam or a road that supports 400lbs, it's going to break. (vo)maintaining the levees was the responsibility of the us army. but, as military engineer, al naomi admitted, the barriers were no match for hurricane katrina. >>bottom line is, they weren't designed to withstand the storm surge that they encountered. if you're going to have a storm of this power come into
the city and attack the levee protection system, its likely and you have to assume that something is going to happen to that protection system. there is going to be a failure or a compromise from that protection system in some way. (vo)conditions in the city worsened by the hour as desperate people lined the streets, waiting for help which - for a great many - would never arrive. as new orleans spiraled into total chaos, troops were sent in, both to help in the rescue effort and to maintain order. lieutenant-general russell honore was in charge. one of the first things he did was rein in what he regarded as the heavy handed attitude of the local police towards people suspected of looting.
>>i told them "guns down". these people are already victims, they're not criminals. they're poor, they're tired, they're hungry. (vo)in reality most of them were just trying to find food for their starving families. after devastating new orleans, hurricane katrina moved further inland, finally dissipating over the great lakes and the canadian border on august 31st. the great storm resulted in nearly 2000 deaths and is estimated to have cost more than $200 billion - a staggering sum, making it the most expensive natural disaster in us history. much of this was due to the failure of the levees at new orleans. but there are still those - like joe suhayda - who feel
that the catastrophe could have been avoided. >>it was like a cheap disaster movie. i felt really sick because it was a tragedy that could have or should have been prevented. i had phone calls saying why didn't you call someone about what you saw happen and i said what was there to tell people? we had laid this out in very great detail for years. (vo)district emergency director walter maestri also expressed his frustration that no-one had listened to him either. didn't know, we didn't realize". i was certainly one of those who both, locally, nationally and internationally, spread the word that new orleans was the worst case scenario community for a land falling category 4 or 5 hurricane. (vo)when hurricane katrina overwhelmed new orleans it
resulted in widespread devastation and loss of life. however, if such a hurricane were to hit new york - with its much greater population - the outcome would be almost beyond belief. although the traditional us hurricane belt lies at least 1000 miles south, meteorologists like dr. chris lancey believe that new york is still very much at risk especially as sea levels keep rising.
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no other television show does that. we're keeping it real. >>for new york to get hit, it takes a very specific storm. one that comes very close to the southeast of the united states and it makes a hard turn and goes due north. (vo)it's reckoned that if a category four hurricane made landfall on manhattan - the heart of the city - a terrifying wall of water quickly rising to a height of 30 feet would surge through the streets, devastating a huge area and resulting in great loss of life. people would not only drown; they would also be cut to pieces by deadly shards of falling glass as the howling gale
batters high rise buildings, shattering thousands of windows. and people who seek refuge from the rising water in such buildings run the risk of being torn out through the broken windows by the relentless winds. scientists believe that the steady onset of global warming means that at some time in the not too distant future new york will lie just seven feet above sea level. a major hurricane strike on the city at this point would almost certainly result in the usa's worst ever natural disaster. although detecting and tracking hurricanes once they've formed is fairly straightforward, predicting exactly when they will occur is a different matter altogether.
meteorologists and other observers are well aware of the world's hurricane hotspots and are on constant alert. the us national hurricane centre in particular works round the clock monitoring storm systems which have the potential to develop into lethal hurricanes. once everyone knows a hurricane is on the way warnings are issued and steps can be taken to move people away from the danger zones. but no matter what precautions are taken there is no power on earth which can stop a hurricane. they will always be one of nature's most destructive and deadly forces.